by Carole Vansickle
White sofas add elegance and style to any room, but dirty or grimy white sofa and loveseats can destroy your ambiance just as fast. Cleaning a white sofa can be difficult, but it is an essential art to master if you want to incorporate any type of white, upholstered furniture into your decor. Take your time and test out different methods before you commit to any course of action so that you can be sure that you will not exacerbate the damage rather than repair it.
Vacuum the sofa. This will remove dirt and dust that could turn into mud and stain your sofa during the cleaning process.
Treat stains immediately. Blot the spill with a clean cloth. Clean wine and coffee stains with a baking soda and water paste. Apply the paste with a cloth and let it sit for a few minutes. Then dab it off. Salt can be applied to fresh red wine stains and then scraped off. The stain should come with it. Covering a grease or oil stain with corn starch for 15 to 20 minutes before vacuuming it will remove most traces of these darker stains.
Create a foam cleanser. Place 1/2 cup powdered, mild laundry detergent in a small mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup of water. Use the electric mixer to make a foamy, whipped cleaning paste. If the paste is too watery, add a little more powder. If it is too stiff to whip, add some more water.
Clean the entire sofa with the foam cleanser. You can apply it to the entire sofa with a slightly damp cleaning rag. Once you have treated an area of 1 or 2 feet, return and "rinse" the upholstery using a clean, damp rag and the same dabbing motion. This will deodorize the sofa and lift any lingering grime or dirt.
Vacuum the sofa. Once the sofa has dried -- this can take up to 48 hours -- vacuum once more to be sure that you have lifted all the cleaning agents out of the upholstery.
Use the appropriate water temperature. Unless you are dealing with a blood stain or a stain from other bodily fluids, you should always clean with cold water. For blood, which is enzyme-based, you can use hot water.
Dab the stains when you are treating them. Never scrub a stain on a white sofa. If you scrub, you will set or spread the stain more.
Repetition is key. If any cleaning step fails to yield the results you want, try it again. Do not get exasperated and start scrubbing, though.